Look out AMG? Audi shows off new RS 3 hot hatch

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Words: Matthew Hansen
11 Jun 2021

Despite looming electrification requirements and a hatchback segment that struggles to chart for sales in this part of the world, the hatch back title fight has arguably never been as fierce as it is today.

Let’s rattle off some names. Ford Focus ST, Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Golf GTI, Volkswagen Golf R, Renault Megane RS, Honda Civic Type R, Toyota Yaris GR, Hyundai i20 N, Hyundai i30 N, Mercedes-AMG A 35, Mercedes-AMG A 45. All fabulous cars, and there’s plenty more out there besides.

One of the overlooked models of the recent past has been the Audi RS 3. Once the king of the hot hatch castle for power (and that brilliant thrumming five pot), it’s fallen out of critical favour in recent times due to a lack of updates.

Thankfully though, a new model is on the horizon. Overnight Audi published its first official images of the new RS 3 in both hatchback and sedan form. The shots show both cars coated in a thick amount of camouflage, but you can still eyeball plenty of details through the wrap.

Each pairs the changes from the recently updated standard A3 and S3 with a hungrier, larger set of front vents, a more aggressive rear diffuser, and pumped up arches allowing for a wider track.

Normally this is where the story finishes when it comes to shots of camouflaged, teased releases. But, according to Autocar UK, Audi has also confirmed the powertrain of the new RS 3. It reports that the RS 3 will use the five-cylinder turbo from the Audi TT RS Coupe and RS Q3 SUV.

This means it will produce 294kW of power and 480Nm of torque. When attached to the RS Q3, that engine is capable of 0–100km/h in 4.5 seconds — so in this more compact application it should be good for a 4-second 0–100.

If those numbers sound familiar, they should. That output is exactly the same as the outgoing RS 3's power and torque ratings. To be fair, this shouldn't come as a shock. Audi confirmed in March that it would no longer be developing its internal combustion engines further as it pivots towards electrification. 

On paper then, it shouldn’t really scare the Mercedes-AMG A 45 — the RS 3’s long established rival. The three-pointed star offers 309kW and 500Nm in its S configuration, which is the model sold in New Zealand. Still, nothing in the segment can quite compare to the charm of that Audi five cylinder.

"Our mission is to push the limits of what’s possible – that’s what Audi Sport is all about. And I’m positive that this will continue to be the case in the future,” says Audi Sport managing director Sebastian Grams.

"We expect to offer more than half of our high-performance models in partially or fully electrified form as early as 2024. And by 2026, this figure will likely even be as high as 80%. We want to offer our customers the right products and services for their specific markets and segments," adds Audi Sport sales and marketing boss Rolf Michl.

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